A poem of Ascent. Remember in David's favor all his affliction; suffering, hardship and exertion, in seeking a place to build the Holy Temple.
One of the major shortcomings in life is lack of appreciation. David went to great lengths to find a place to build the Holy Temple, the Mikdash. It was eventually built by his son, Shlomo. (Solomon)
The author of the Psalm is asking God, please remember all that David went through; please take this into consideration when rendering judgment upon David, his offspring, and the household of Israel.
We don't like to pay taxes. We don't stop to think that those taxes, at least in theory, go to build roads and essential public buildings. We are so busy complaining that we don't stop to think that the roads we travel on are the result of a great deal of 'affliction' by someone. Simply put; we lack appreciation.
David did not even succeed in fulfilling the promise of building the Temple, but he found a place for it, and he tried. How often do we take the time to appreciate the efforts others make for us, even if it is their job. Who thanks the chef? Who thanks the car mechanic or the postal worker? Do you think they don't need your appreciation? Let me tell you, they do!
This is a lesson I learned from my dear father, Rabbi Paul M. Katz of blessed memory. He took the time to get to know people, at the post office, the bank, the garage. He knew each person by name. Today, years after his passing, the very mention of him brings a happy smile to the faces of those whom he encountered in his daily life.
So we say to God, and to others as well; remember our affliction, remember the efforts we made on your behalf, even if those efforts did not fully succeed.
How he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the mighty God of Yaakov
David made a vow to build a "home for God", but Yaakov, (Jacob) was the first to make such a vow. The building of the Temple fulfills this ancient vow. That is why Ya'akov is mentioned here, though he is long since passed. The point is that a promise is a promise and must be kept.
If you say you are going to do something, then do it! It does not matter how much time passes, your obligation to fulfill the words that came out of your mouth is still in force and must be followed.
Surely I will not enter the tent of my house, my bedroom, nor will I go up to my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes, slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation of the mighty One of Ya'akov
David is showing a great eagerness to fulfill his promise, his mission. Sometimes a person might say, "I will do the job but first let me enter my house, my bedroom, just for a moment." Of course we know that then they procrastinate. They fall asleep and push off the important task to another day.
David is teaching us a valuable lesson here. When you have a goal you do not allow yourself excessive leisure; do not rest more than you need to, do not spoil yourself. Provide yourself with the minimum you need and focus on your task.
The image of slumber to the eyelids, sleep to the eyes; we all know that feeling you just want to give in, allow your eyelids to close, give sleep to your heavy eyes which are yearning to shut. But NO! David says, this is the time to fight back that urge, push yourself further, and accomplish your goal.
But how? How do we do this? The answer is here. "Until I find a place for the Lord…" If you understand the importance of your goal, if you realize what is at stake, then you will be able to push yourself as necessary. David wants to find a place for the Mikdash, the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. This drive, this passion, keeps him from closing his sleep eyes. How can one sleep when such a lofty goal is in front of them!
Surely I can not rest when I understand the importance of the task I have undertaken. Even the natural urge to give in to sleep can be suppressed, when the goal is clear.
We heard it at Efrat, we found it at Sde Ya'ar
Efrat, the city where David was born, the townspeople heard of David's conviction to bring the Holy Ark and find the proper place for it. Also the people of Sde Ya'ar helped bring up the Holy Ark.
Members of both these towns might have hoped that their towns would be chosen as the resting place for the Holy Ark, but they trusted David and realized that it would ultimately settle in Jerusalem, in Zion. For the sake of the greater good, the unity of the people, the passed over the honor of their own town.
Efrat is the birth place of David, and Sde Ya'ar, i.e, Kiryat Ye'arim, was the home of the Ark for twenty years. Yet both these towns were humble enough to accept that ultimately Jerusalem was chosen as the holy site for the ark and the Temple.
Too often our egos get in the way of proper judgment. We want to be president at all costs! Even if we know deep down that we are not the best suited for the job. Both these towns said, 'let the glory go to Jerusalem, for that is the proper place and we will be satisfied with the honor we already have'.
Putting aside one's ego for the benefit of the greater good of the nation; an important lesson indeed.
We will go into His dwelling place, we will worship at his footstool
Now that they know the proper place to worship they shall hurry up and do it right away, even though some effort is involved. Too often people know what needs to be done but push it off. Here, as soon as the location was made clear, the very next step is…We will go…without delay.
Arise O Lord to thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength
These are the words of those carrying the Holy Ark as they brought it to Jerusalem. Now that the final resting place has been determined, bring your divine spirit here.
What they are saying is "We are bringing in the physical ark, the Holy Ark, but now you must bring in the spirit, the divine spirit".
This is the ark that the Israelites carried in battle and with which miracles were performed against the Philistines (Not connected in anyway to the so-called "Palestinians" (Sic) of today).
The physical is a symbol but the real power is the spiritual. The physical body is a container for the soul, which is so much more powerful.
Let the Cohanim be clothed in righteousness and let the Chasidim, the pious ones, sing with joy
The Cohanim were the descendants of Aharon the High Priest, the Cohen. The word cohen means to serve. The Cohanim served in the Temple and at the time of this writing were the teachers and judges of the people. This verse is a hope, a wish. It is a prayer; May those who serve the people, who lead and judge them, be clothed in righteous deeds and behavior.
One's deeds are like clothing that one wears. We all know that people can see and notice our clothing but we sometimes believe that we can hide our less than perfect actions. This verse teaches us that your deeds are a part of you. You wear your deeds and behavior as you wear clothing, and everyone can see it. Just as people can see and judge your clothing, they can see and judge your character. We pray that those who represent us are so righteous that they shall wear this righteousness as one wears clothing.
For thy servant David's sake do not turn away the face of the anointed.
The king is the anointed one. The request here is; do not turn away from the request of the king of Israel, accept his prayer.
The Lord has sworn in truth to David, He will not turn away from it, one of the sons of thy body will I set upon they throne. If your children will keep the covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children too shall forever sit on the throne.
The promise that God made to David and to the Jewish people is not a promise that can be negated or changed. It is an eternal promise. Unlike human beings who constantly change terms of agreements or break promises; God's promises are unchangeable, unbreakable and eternal. You can bank on it.
The promise that David's offspring will "forever sit on the throne" is conditional. They must keep the faith, study the testimony.
We say you are given a great inheritance; the laws of God, but you must claim them. It is not automatic, it requires work. Any skill or body of knowledge that you wish to attain must require great effort on your behalf. It is not free for the taking, never was.
If your father is a great grand master of martial arts and you too want this position, then you too must train night and day. He will give you every opportunity and the position is yours if you are worthy and qualified but you must devote yourself to the task wholeheartedly. Nothing of value is free, never was, never will be.
For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his habitation. This is my resting place forever, here I will dwell for I have desired it.
The Hebrew word for "desired" is an unusual word, not the word most often used. It is a word rarely used and implies intense, strong desire. Perhaps this word was intended to also convey the feelings the Jewish people would have for Israel, Zion, during the years when so many of our people were in forced exile.
For the people of Israel, the Jewish people, no other land, no other home would do. For close to 2,000 the people "desired" the land of Israel in a way that no other people ever desired a land. The longing, the passion, is unparalleled in human history.
In 586 B.C. , for example, the Philistine nation was exiled to Babylon along with the Jews. They integrated and became part of the Babylonian nation; they never attempted to come back to the Land of Israel. The German people, the French, who fought in the American Revolutionary War, became Americans. There was never a movement of "Return to the Father Land".
But the Jews, for all those years of forced exile, longed for, and intensively desired the Land of Israel, just as the Psalm reads, "This is my resting place for ever. Here I will swell for I have desired it." For us, there can never be another home.
I will abundantly bless her provisions, I will satisfy her poor with bread.
One can work hard but in the end have nothing to show for it; neither money nor happiness. Yet another can be content with his earnings and somehow always have enough. To the casual observer this does not make sense. How is it possible that the guy earning huge amounts of money somehow at the end of the day has little to show for it?
With some their provisions are blessed, they are able to support large families on small incomes and no one ever feels lacking, even those who are financially 'poor' seem to be blessed with all their needs taken care of.
Two can have the same provisions but one is blessed and though he may be poor he lacks neither food nor happiness. The other, though 'rich' never has enough, neither financially nor soul-wise.
We must carefully count our blessings, and things are never as they appear.
I will also cloth her Cohanim with salvation, and her pious ones shall shout about with joy.
In those times the Cohanim of the tribe of Levi still were the judges of Israel. In later times this responsibility was taken over by the rabbis. Through the Cohanim God will send salvation to the people. This hand of God will be as clear to all as the clothing that a person wears. It will be as easily visible as the physical clothing.
We are surrounded by miracles daily yet many say, "Where is God? Why don't I see miracles?" The answer is that you need to open your eyes. The hand of God is still very clear but we are short sighted and cannot see what is happening. The author of the Psalm is expressing a hope that the actions of God will be clear to all, as clear as the clothing that we wear. This will make the pious ones shout with joy.
The pious ones will rejoice not only for the good God has done for Zion but also for the recognition, the fact that people do not attribute other "logical" causes for this redemption.
There I will make the horn of David to shoot up, I have set up a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will cloth with shame. But upon himself his crown will flourish.
There, in Zion, I will give David the a powerful government and a great victory. The Aramaic reads, "There I will raise up (cause to flower) a great king to the house of David". There I have set up a lamp, to light the way, to guide the people. Also, the kingdom will shine like a great light. The glory and honor of the house of David will shine like a lamp.
The enemies of Israel will "wear their shame" as clearly as a man wears clothing. The house of David, the people of Israel, shall flourish in Zion.